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Here's when 'Game of Thrones' season 7 will officially air

HBO recently announced when new episodes of the hugely successful fantasy drama will return. The network is shaking up the normal schedule for the TV program.

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'Game of Thrones' stars Liam Cunningham.

Helen Sloan/HBO

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The upcoming season of “Game of Thrones” will officially air later than normal and will consist of fewer episodes than usual as the HBO fantasy drama continues to take an unusual route in creating its later seasons. 

According to network HBO, “Thrones” will return during the summer rather than during March or April 2017, the months during which the fantasy drama has previously debuted a new season during its run. In addition, the upcoming season of the show will consist of seven episodes rather than the show’s standard 10. 

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This matches the plans “Thrones” co-creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff had publicly discussed before, with the duo stating previously that they were set for a seven-episode seventh season and a six-episode eighth season.

HBO reiterated that the reason for the later debut date for the seventh season is because of the program’s adjusted shooting schedule – Mr. Weiss and Mr. Benioff had previously stated that they were changing their filming calendar in order to depict the winter that is currently being experienced by the characters on the show.

The shortened season is just the latest way “Thrones” has forged its own path as the hugely successful drama has moved forward.

This past season was the first to largely depart from the source material by writer George R.R. Martin. At the end of the drama’s fifth season, the show had mostly covered the story that was depicted in the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels by Mr. Martin and so the narratives seen in the previous season, which concluded last month, were mostly original. 

And now those behind the show are departing from the model they themselves had set for the past several years, shortening the season’s run. 

HBO has not discussed whether the show will end after its eighth season. “Thrones” has been renewed for eight so far and Martin planned two more books to wrap up his story.